PM’s Israel comments may jeopardise Indonesia free trade deal

PM’s Israel comments may jeopardise Indonesia free trade deal
Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison (left) & President of Indonesia Joko Widodo (right) by Australian Embassy Jakarta via Wikimedia Commons

Indonesia may halt the imminent free trade agreement with Australia over Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments regarding Australia’s Israel embassy.

The free trade agreement, discussed during the Prime Minister’s first international trip, was destined to be signed by the end of 2018. However, the future of the agreement has had doubt cast over it because of Mr Morrison’s comments saying that he would consider moving the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

His suggestion of moving the embassy to Jerusalem reflects solidarity with Israel’s assertion that Jerusalem should be recognised as Israel’s capital city, a position that US President Donald Trump tried (and failed) to convince the United Nations to support.

One of Indonesia’s primary foreign affairs positions is the support of an independent Palestinian state. The Prime Minister’s comments suggest favouritism towards Israel’s position that Jerusalem should wholly belong to the Jewish state.

Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia has since called for a meeting with Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry in order to resolve the issue.

Enggartiasto Lukita, Indonesia’s Trade Minister, has however contradicted reports saying that his nation was considering scrapping the trade deal in response to the issue, saying that “no such thing” was being discussed.

During Parliament Question Time, the Prime Minister explained that he had been in talks with the Indonesian President Joko Widodo and that he had been “very pleased with the response” without going into detail about was discussed.

Palestinians in Australia have expressed dismay at the Prime Minister’s comments, with many saying that he has done nothing to help the complex Middle-East peace process that has been ongoing for decades. Australia’s reputation with Arab nations who are opposed to Israel may also be affected by Mr Morrison’s suggestion to move the Australian embassy to Jerusalem,tacitly endorsing the city as Israel’s capital.